A suit has been filed against the State of Belgian by the grandmother of two Syria-born children of a female Belgian fighter jailed in Turkey, in a bid to obtain their repatriation. The case was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday in the Brussels lower court, the woman’s lawyer, Mohammed Ozdemir told De Morgen newspaper. On behalf of his client, the attorney is demanding 5,000 euros per day until the children are repatriated.
Their mother, 29-year-old Amina Ghezzal joined Islamic State in 2015, but was arrested on 7 January 2018 in Kayseri, central Turkey, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for terrorism on the 3rd of April.
Since then, her mother, Rachma Ayad, has been trying to have her two granddaughters, aged two- and four-years-old, brought to Belgium. The children reportedly meet repatriation criteria set by the National Security Council, but do not have birth certificates. After Belgium refused to issue travel documents to them, their grandparents had a DNA sample from the tots compared to theirs. “The sampling guarantees 99% that they are our granddaughters, but the Belgian State is not taking this into account,” Mrs Ayad said.
Belgium’s lack of a coherent policy on the issue has been slammed by many critics.
In late 2017, the Government decreed that only children under the age of 10 years would automatically be considered victims while the others would be assessed on a case-by-case basis. At least 160 children with at least one Belgian parent were still in Syria and Iraq in July 2018, according to Thomas Renard, a researcher at the Egmont Institute.